Oct 25, 2014

Refreshing Lemony Shrimp Pasta for a Light Weekend Meal

Lemon is probably one of my favorite ingredients used in cooking. This versatile fruit can be found in my kitchen almost all the time. I can add some lemon juice or lemon slices in water, use the zest in cooking or baking, the already squeezed wedges can even be stored in the fridge to eliminate unwanted odors. Must Love Lemon. 

Tired of having red meat for meals over the past few days, my oily tummy is crying for lighter food. Lemon can provide that refreshing touch for food. So here it is, this lemony pasta with shrimp and chicken came to a rescue.

Lemony shrimp pasta -

Ingredients (for 3 to 4 portion)?

  • 1 pack/250 grams of conchiglie or medium seashells pasta
  • 18 small shrimps (deveined and peeled)
  • 6 chicken tender
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 lemon 
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red chili flakes
  • Small pinch of dried thyme


This beautiful bag of conchiglie/shell-shaped pasta was sitting around my pantry for quite some time. The colors came from squid ink, tulip, carrot, and spinach. Such vibrant pasta should work pretty well with this refreshing recipe -

Bring a big pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta till al dente in texture. If you time it well, the pasta should be ready just when the other ingredients are about done and ready to be mixed together.

Peel and dice the onion into smaller cubes. Chop the chicken tender into smaller cubes. Peel and devein the shrimps. 

Drizzle some olive oil to the pan and add in the onion along with salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Mix a little and cook till the onion turns translucent, or even a tiny bit browned on the edges.

Add in the chicken pieces and wait till about 80% cooked through, add in the shrimps.

Quickly add the zest and juice of one lemon into the mixture. Also sprinkle a small pinch of dried thyme for extra herbal aroma. The shrimps should be ready quickly. Pour in drained pasta and mix well. Taste and see if more salt is needed. 

You can also substitute the chicken with calamari and make it a full plate of seafood feast. 

Served with Tabasco if a spicier taste is preferred. In fact, the sourish taste from the Tabasco actually works quite well with this lemony pasta.

Perhaps add some freshly chopped flat leaf parsley to add more fresh herbal scent for the conchiglie. Can't be any more refreshing than this.

Other pasta recipe: 
Make ahead recipe - spaghetti with pesto made with anchovies, green olives, and parsley
Fusion pasta recipe - creamy and garlicky kimchi pork spaghetti
Wine pairing - lamb ragu with Punica Barrua 2010
Spicy chicken and broccoli spaghetti, topped with grated Pecorino Romano and poached egg
Spaghetti saffron style with prawns, smoked bacon, and asparagus

Oct 19, 2014

Chinese Style Beef Tendon and Ox Tail Stew (6 Hours of Collagen Goodness)

Be patient for this recipe. 

As long as you can hold up for 6 hours while the house is filled with aroma from the soy sauce based stew, the end result will be satisfying and fulfilling. You'll be rewarded with fork tender beef tendon along with fall out of the bone ox tail.

Chinese style beef tendon and ox tail stew -


  • 1 lb of beef tendon
  • 1 lb of ox tail
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 stalk of scallion
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 5 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of condensed soy paste (thicker than regular soy sauce)
  • 2~3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1~2 tablespoons of freshly ground black pepper
  • Some salt
  • Some cilantro (for garnish)


Chop the beef tendon into bite size pieces and transfer to a big pot along with the ox tail. Pour in some water and bring to a boil to draw out the dirty impurities.

Don't let it boil for too long, about 2 minutes. Drain and set aside for later use.

Peel and chop the onion into large pieces. Peel the garlic cloves. Chop the tomatoes into large cubes.

Make sure to use a big pot since this stew requires large amount of liquid to begin with. Drizzle some olive oil into the pot and add in the salt and freshly ground black pepper. Slowly stir fry the onion for about 7 to 8 minutes till almost caramelized or turns slightly browned.

Add in the fresh tomatoes and stir fry for about one minute. Pour in canned diced tomatoes together with the juice inside, also add in the tomato paste, soy sauce, condensed soy paste, and water. Let it cook for a couple minutes then transfer the tendon and ox tail to the pot, gently stir the mixture.

Add in the scallion, garlic cloves, and bay leaf.

Bring to a boil then lower the heat to keep it simmer. Make sure to scoop out the remaining dirty impurities floating on the surface. Check often in the beginning and you can simply leave the pot simmering afterwards. Put on the lid and let it simmer for six hours. 

Two hours into the stewing process -

Please check once a while making sure nothing is burning on the bottom or the liquid has been dried out. Do not bring up the heat for the purpose of reducing the the liquid as soon as possible. The tendon takes a long time to cook through, so just keep the mixture slowly cooking at its own paste.

After 6 hours, you can see that full pot of liquid has been reduced significantly -

Leaving you fork tender tendon and ox tail -

Garnish with cilantro for a color pop - 

The stew tastes better overnight. You can make ahead and store the whole pot into the fridge. Just heat it up with small fire once ready to serve.

Even though it's more of an Asian style stew, but besides steamed rice, its flavor actually works quite well with pasta. Mashed potatoes will do the trick also, just need some kind of starch to complete the meal.

Other stew recipes:
Stewed beef brisket with Chinese marinated peeled chilies
No fuss onion and black pepper beef stew
Southeastern style pork stew using galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and lemon grass

Oct 13, 2014

Inspired by the Movie "Chef" - Here's My Version of Grilled Cheese with Homemade Salsa

Have you watched the movie Chef? It's about a restaurant chef losing his job and started the food truck business, plus the life story behind of course. You'll find lots of local goodies throughout the movie such as the all time favorite grilled cheese, Cuban sandwich, beignet, Texas style barbecue, and more. 

The movie makes viewers mouth-watering and craving to get a hold of one of these foods on the screen. There's not really a grilled cheese sandwich specialty here in Taiwan. So what should I do? Roll up the sleeves, I'm going to make my own version of grilled cheese, salsa style!

Grilled cheese sandwich with homemade salsa -

Ingredients (for one)?
  • 2 slices of milk toast
  • 2 tablespoons/about 20 grams of unsalted butter
  • 2 Cheddar cheese squares
  • 2 Emmental cheese squares
  • 2 Gouda cheese squares
  • Some homemade salsa


I've got some leftover salsa from a small house gathering. It's a simplified version of salsa, which is very easy to make. Basic ingredients including a couple of ripe tomatoes, 1/2 onion, some jalapeno or red chilies if preferred, some cilantro, 1/2 lime, salt, and black pepper. Dice all the ingredients and mix together, adjust the taste with salt and lime juice. 

I'll remember to post an updated salsa recipe in the future, the one currently on my blog was back in 2008 and definitely needs to be revamped.

Brush all the semi-melted butter on one side of the milk toasts. Sear the toasts buttered side down with a non-stick skillet or cast iron pan. Evenly layer the cheese squares on each toast, I put the Emmental first, followed by Gouda, and finally Cheddar, but it shouldn't make too much difference just the color presentation looks better this way (white - yellow - white).

Use medium low heat if you're uncertain if the toasts will burn without the cheese melting at all. Once the cheese melts a little on the edges, scoop in some salsa onto one of the toasts. Use a spatula and gently lift up the toasts to check on the color. If it's turning brownish then flip the toast onto the one with salsa, do not press it down. 

This step is not required: You can even add a little more butter to the skillet and gently lift up the sandwich to sear all four sides, but it does require some skills without having the salsa fall off. 

Carefully remove the grilled cheese away from heat and cut in half before serving. You'll know the sandwich is a success when the knife runs down the bread hearing that crunchy sound, and of course the lusciously melting, oozing cheese.

Next time let me make a peanut butter and jelly grilled cheese sandwich. My mouth is watering just visualizing this idea. 

Other sandwich and light burger recipes:
Japanese style corn and ham sandwich
Smoked ham sandwich with aioli
Brioche burger with seared tuna and Sriracha uni sauce
Turkey burger with two cheeses, sunny side up egg, baby greens, and broiled tomatoes